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Dr. Amy Staples: Adjunct Advocacy Southern Style

by O.W. Coffman

By her own admission, Dr. Amy Staples, a full-time professor of history, is “one of those blessed few,” meaning she’s never done time as an adjunct professor.

The tenure-track educator, nonetheless, is no stranger to the inequality issues that plague adjuncts, including the estimated 270 part-time instructors who are employed at her own school, Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in Murfreesboro.

“I was never an adjunct,” Staples concedes. “I was one of those blessed few who went straight from my Ph.D. to a tenure-track job, but most of my friends and colleagues in grad school were—or still are—adjuncts.”

Although Staples herself isn’t forced to exist within the realm of academe’s grossly underpaid and uninsured, she’s not content to simply observe the status quo when it comes to adjunct inequality. In fact, she’s arguably the strongest advocate for adjunct equality that her university, which is the second-largest university in Tennessee, has yet to encounter.

“People doing equal work deserve equal pay,” says Staples, who is the immediate past-president of MTSU’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

Moreover, she asserts, “I also believe that we have to remember that universities’ primary mission is to educate,

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